Celtics fans got the news that they were awaiting for about a week and didn’t want to hear on Saturday. Kyrie Irving will be out for three to six-week as he recovers from knee surgery. The NBA Playoffs start exactly three weeks from the day of the surgery. The best case scenario is that Kyrie returns at some point in the first round of the playoffs. The worst case if that he doesn’t play at all. The Celtics most likely opponents in Round One will be the Bucks, Heat, or Wizards. Without Kyrie, the Celtics would be far from heavy favorites.
Right now, the Celtics are viewed as a similar team as last year’s team without as much talent. They’re a scrappy team who overachieves. In fact, the Celtics have won three games in a row including impressive wins over the Thunder and Blazers. They’re not going away and they’re not giving away games. The Celtics are unlikely to move up or down as they sit 3.5 games behind the Raptors for the #1 seed and 6 games ahead of the Cavs for the #2 seed. The Kyrie injury certainly gives the Celtics a much greater challenge to win night to night. In addition, it’s giving players more minutes which helps them gain experience.
Players getting more minutes usually doesn’t translate into wins. This is especially true on a team that’s missing four of their top players. The Celtics have been missing Gordon Hayward all season. Recently, they were without Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown as well.
What has happened here is that the Celtics are watching a star blossom right in front of them in Terry Rozier.
In the last 22 games, Rozier is averaging 16.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a game. This is with an average of 30 minutes per game. He has scored in double figures in each of those 22 games. Last night, Rozier scored 33 points which included eight three pointers. He’s not only gaining attention within Celtics Nation, but also within the league. Naturally, a player stepping up when called upon is a great story as well important for the development of that player. In this case, Rozier may be the answer the Celtics need to get through a round or two.
But, then what?
Celtics fans who are being realistic know that it’s highly unlikely for the Celtics to win the championship this year. While there is hope that they can get to the Finals with a healthy Kyrie, the odds are stacked against them. Next year is the year. Healthy Kyrie. Healthy Hayward. Tatum. Brown. Oh yeah, and the opportunity to make a splash…
The Celtics will likely continue to keep their eyes on Anthony Davis. With each year that passes, it becomes more and more likely that he’ll be moved. Well, it’s going to take a lot. It’s going to take at least Brown or Tatum, the Sacramento pick in 2019, and possibly Al Horford…for starters. Well, now there’s another piece that the Pelicans could covet in a trade and his name is Terry Rozier. Granted, only has one year left on his deal. However, with an aging Rajon Rondo at point guard, the Pelicans could look to build their team around Tatum or Brown along with Rozier in addition to the potential of a top three draft pick in 2019.
If Kyrie Irving didn’t get hurt, we would not have seen 33 points on eight three pointers and 22 consecutive games in double figures. The Celtics now have another asset to cash in this summer to land the player that will bring more banners to the rafters at TD Garden. With Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics would be poised to take over the NBA.